Aivars Lembergs sentenced to four years in prison

After 14 years of litigation, the court of the second instance – Rīga Regional Court – announced its verdict in the trial of former Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs on September 27.

The court sentenced Lembergs to four years in prison and confiscation of property.

The time spent in custody and house arrest previously will be included in the sentence. In total, Lembergs spent 11 months and 9 days in custody and house arrest from March 2007 to February 2008.

Lembergs has been found guilty of taking bribes, laundering money, unauthorized participation in a property transaction, and falsification of documents.

He has been found innocent on charges of concealing his property, making decisions while in a conflict of interest, and abusing his position of office.

The court of first instance handed down the abbreviated verdict in the Aivars Lembergs trial on February 22, 2021. The Rīga Regional Court sentenced Lembergs to five years in prison, a fine of EUR 20,000 and confiscation of property. Among other things, the court decided to seize the real estate owned by Lembergs in Puze.

Lembergs was then found guilty of taking bribes, laundering money, unauthorized participation in property transactions, falsifying documents, as well as concealing his properties, and innocent on charges of decision-making while in a conflict of interest and abuse of office.

In early February 2022, Lembergs' criminal case began to be examined on appeal in Rīga Regional Court. Even at the first hearing of the appeal, he applied for a dismissal of the composition of the court, which the court did not accept.

Later, Lembergs paid EUR 100,000 bail for release from custody.

Lembergs also demanded EUR 100,000 in compensation for the health damage he believes he suffered while in prison. However, Lembergs' application was rejected in the administrative district court in Riga.

As previously reported, courts started hearing the Lembergs case back in 2009 and its on-again, off-again character over the next decade became increasingly absurd. Despite the fact that he was being tried on serious fraud and corruption charges, Lembergs continued to play a very active role in politics, via his patronage of the Greens and Farmers Union political force. On a weekly basis, he would also opine on matters of world and domestic politics via the Ventspils municipal website, frequently referring to himself in the third person.

The imposition of U.S. sanctions in 2019  courtesy of the Department of the Treasury  saw his reputation as an untouchable shattered, though the convicted criminal continues to garner surprising support among sections of society even today.

Just a year ago he was the official pick of the Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) party for the post of Prime Minister ahead of October Saeima elections – despite the fact he was behind bars at the time. More recently, his name has been circulating again in connection with the inclusion of ZZS in the new government coalition and the appointment of a new parliamentary speaker who has previously expressed strong support for the sanctioned convict. 

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